More Than A Third Of American Kids Have High Cholesterol Levels

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A study has found that a third of children and teenagers have elevated LDL cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association has found evidence that the build-up of fatty plaque — cholesterol — begins in childhood and slowly progresses into adulthood. The American College of Cardiology found that 37 percent of children between nine- and 11-years-old had borderline or elevated total LDL cholesterol levels, according to Cardiology Today.

There are two types of cholesterol, LDL, colloquially known as the “bad” cholesterol, that can lead to heart problems and increase the risk of diabetes. It is called low density lipoprotein, which can clog the arteries. The “good” cholesterol, HDL, high-density lipoprotein, is considered good because it helps clean the arteries, according to the Examiner.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that children from age two- to 19-year-olds maintain an LDL level of 110 mg, and a total cholesterol level of less than 170 mg, according to the Examiner.

Normally, our livers produce the proper amount of cholesterol we need, and the colon gets rid of any excess. However, what people eat affects the amount of cholesterol in our bodies. Poor diets that have excess sugar, processed foods, and fats can lead to elevated cholesterol levels. So too much pizza, ice cream, or fried foods can be unhealthy.

Children at risk for high cholesterol may have one or more than the following behaviors: inactivity without regular exercise; poor eating habits; eating processed foods rather than fruits, vegetable, lean meats, and fish; a family history of high cholesterol; and weigh too much for their age and build.

There are three ways to help a young person have a healthy cholesterol level. Ensure that they have regular exercise for 30 minutes per day, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope — or any activity that is appropriate for their fitness level, rather than just sitting watching television. Also, reduce the amount of sugary and processed foods, such as cake, pizza, and sugary cereal. Third, increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that they eat.

Of course, before undertaking any diet or exercise program, the child should be seen by a medical professional, such as their doctor, who can set up an appropriate program.

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